CSU honored by Shorty Awards for best of social media

Kevin Hoyt at commencement

Colorado State University’s Division of External Relations and the College of Business communications team has received the Shorty Awards Audience Honor for Kevin’s Walk, a story about a CSU student’s journey to graduation that went viral during the 2017 commencement season.

The 10th Annual Shorty Awards, honoring the best of social media, were handed out in New York on April 15. The Shorty Awards recognize individuals and organizations producing great content on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat and the rest of the social web.

Kevin Hoyt at commencement
Kevin Hoyt, left, receives his degree

“Consumers expect more from brands now more than ever before,” said MuckRack CEO Gregory Galant, co-founder of the Shorty Awards. “The most successful brands are taking positions on political and cultural issues, which just a few years ago would have terrified CMOs [chief marketing officers]. Storytelling and social good are still very important to consumers. We noticed that an element of social good was present in a lot of the winning entries. We are celebrating a decade of the Shorty Awards, so it’s been interesting to watch the evolution of campaigns and the ways in which brands communicate with their audience.”

Colorado State University is a back-to-back finalist for the prestigious Shorty Awards. The university’s social and digital media team was named a finalist in 2017 for the #RamGrad commencement campaign.

Kevin’s Walk

Halfway through working on his MBA degree at Colorado State University, Kevin Hoyt’s world was turned upside down when he fell from the attic in his Utah home on New Year’s Day in 2015, crashing through the ceiling of his living room and landing on the floor nearly 20 feet below. He spent the next month adapting to not being able to use his legs and figuring out how to move forward as a person living with paraplegia. After being certain that he was done with school following the accident, Kevin had a change of heart and decided to re-enroll at Colorado State University and continue his studies online.

Kevin Hoyt at commencement

“I’ve used the motivation of walking across that stage at graduation to get myself physically to that point,” he said.

With his family watching from the crowd, Hoyt approached the stage in his wheelchair. Rolling to a stop in front of hundreds of cheering onlookers, he slowly rose to his feet as students led a standing ovation. He walked across the stage. After two and a half long years, he’d finally accomplished his goal, and it couldn’t have felt better.

A CSU communications team followed his journey to commencement by creating an interactive documentary and corresponding story. Video of Kevin’s walk across the commencement stage was shared across CSU’s social media channels. The video quickly became a viral sensation, reaching more than 5 million people on social media.

Read more about how it happened for Kevin at the #CSUSocial blog.